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Apache Kid (1860–01 January 1930?), Indian scout, was born in Aravaipa Canyon, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of San Carlos Agency in southeast Arizona Territory. The names of his father and mother do not appear in the San Carlos census and remain unknown. As a member of what the U.S. government called the SI band, Kid developed important skills as a youth and learned his scouting and tracking techniques from Togodechuz, his grandfather. Kid married one of the daughters of SL band chief Eskiminzin, possibly Nahthledeztelth. Kid's legitimate Apache name remains a mystery. U.S. Army records simply listed this remarkable scout as Kid, with no other designation. Sayes, a member of Kid's band, claimed that his Indian name was Shisininty. During Kid's court-martial, Tony, an Apache scout, testified that his name was Hahouantell. Various writers have provided other names that include Eskibinadel, Gonteee, Haskaybaynayntal, Ohyessonna, Oskabennantelz, Skibenanted, and Zenogolache. Kid received the added title “Apache” when he became a renegade. That title provided a way to label him as being especially infamous and dangerous....

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Bailey, Ann Hennis Trotter (1742–22 November 1825), revolutionary war scout, was born in Liverpool, England. Little is known about her parents, although it is believed that her father had been a soldier under the duke of Marlborough’s command. As Bailey was literate, she received an education in Liverpool, although details of it are not recorded. Orphaned as a young adult, she immigrated to America in the wake of relatives named Bell. She arrived in Staunton, Virginia, at the Bells’ home, in 1761. In 1765 she married Richard Trotter, a frontiersman and Indian fighter, and they had a son in 1767. Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, recruited men in 1774 to fight the marauding Indians who were disrupting the settlers on or near the Scioto River. Richard Trotter volunteered and followed Colonel Charles Lewis to the point where the Kanawha and Ohio rivers meet, known as Point Pleasant. He was killed in the battle there on 10 October 1774....

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Baker, James (19 December 1818–15 May 1898), trapper, army scout, and early settler of Colorado and Wyoming, was born in Belleville, Illinois, and grew up near Springfield. His parents were of Scots-Irish ancestry from South Carolina. With little formal schooling but adept with a rifle, Jim Baker left home for St. Louis in 1838 and signed an eighteen-month contract with the American Fur Company. On 25 May 1838 the Rocky Mountain–bound party, led by ...

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Bridger, James (17 March 1804–17 July 1881), fur trapper and trader, explorer, and scout, was born in a tavern near Richmond, Virginia, the son of James Bridger, a surveyor and innkeeper, and Chloe Tyler, a barmaid. Bridger and his family moved in about 1812 to a farm near St. Louis, where, on being orphaned five years later, he became a blacksmith’s apprentice. In 1822 he responded to an advertisement calling for a hundred able-bodied young men to join a fur-trapping expedition, lasting from one to three years, up to the headwaters of the Missouri River. The organizers of the expedition were ...

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Burnham, Frederick Russell (11 May 1861–01 September 1947), explorer, scout, and miner, was born in Tivoli, Minnesota, the son of Reverend Otway Burnham, a Congregational minister and missionary, and Rebecca Russell. One family story has it that his mother left him among corn stalks for an entire day while their settlement was under an Indian attack during the 1862 war with the Sioux. Certainly not proven, this story has an interesting ring to it, since Burnham was to spend much of his life hiding or escaping from American Indians or South African peoples during his career as a scout....

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California Joe (08 May 1829–29 October 1876), plainsman and army scout, was born Moses Embree Milner in Standford, Kentucky, the son of Sarah Ann and Embree Armstead Milner, planters. Plantation life in the Kentucky wilderness was hardly genteel; the Milner home was a log cabin, as was the schoolhouse where the young Milner was an able student. Along with “book learning,” Milner excelled in tracking and hunting, which meant his family always had fresh meat to eat. Even as a boy he was known for his skill in shooting his father’s long-barreled rifle, a talent his family regarded as wholly in keeping with his father’s past military experiences in ...

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Kit Carson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107570).

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Carson, Kit (24 December 1809–23 May 1868), mountain man, army officer, and Indian agent, was born Christopher Houston Carson in Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Lindsey Carson, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Rebecca Robinson. In 1811 Lindsey Carson moved his family to Howard County, Missouri, to find “elbow room.” He died in 1818, hit by a falling limb while clearing timber from his land. Christopher enjoyed no schooling and never learned to read or write, other than signing his name to documents. In 1825 his mother and stepfather apprenticed him to David Workman, a Franklin, Missouri, saddler whom Kit described as a kind and good man. Nevertheless, he ran away because he found saddlemaking tedious and distasteful work and yearned to travel. Following in the footsteps of a brother and a half-brother who were in the Santa Fe trade, Carson joined a caravan as a “cavvy boy” (an assistant to the wrangler in charge of the horse and mule herd). Though not unsympathetic, Workman was obliged by law to advertise for his runaway. But he misleadingly suggested to readers of the ...

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Buffalo Bill Cody. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111880).

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Cody, William Frederick (26 February 1846–10 January 1917), frontiersman and entertainer, better known as “Buffalo Bill,” was born in Scott County, Iowa, the son of Isaac Cody and Mary Ann Bonsell Laycock. Cody’s father managed several farms and operated a state business in Iowa. In 1854 the family moved to the Salt Creek Valley in Kansas, where Cody’s father received a government contract to provide hay to Fort Leavenworth. After his father died in 1857, Cody went to work as an ox-team driver for fifty cents a day. Shortly thereafter, the firm of Majors and Russell hired him as an express boy. Cody attended school periodically, although his formal education ended in 1859 when he joined a party heading to Denver to search for gold. He prospected for two months without any luck. He arrived back in Kansas in March 1860 after a trapping expedition. He rode for a time for the Pony Express during its short lifetime (Apr. 1860–Nov. 1861). After the start of the Civil War he joined a group of antislavery guerrillas based in Kansas. Later the Ninth Kansas Volunteers hired him as a scout and guide. On 16 February 1864 Cody enlisted into Company F of the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. He saw quite a bit of action in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas during his one year and seven months of duty. He was mustered out of the army as a private on 29 September 1865....

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Crawford, John Wallace (04 March 1847–28 February 1917), army scout and playwright, known as “Captain Jack, the Poet Scout,” was born in Donegal, Ireland, the son of John Austin Crawford, a tailor, and Susie Wallace. In 1854 his father moved to the United States and found work in the coal mines of Minersville, Pennsylvania. He was joined by his wife in 1858 and by his children in 1860. Three weeks after their arrival he enlisted in the Union army, and his boys had to go to work in the coal mines....

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Fink, Mike (1770–1823), scout, keelboatman, and trapper, was born at Fort Pitt, part of present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His ancestry was probably Scotch-Irish and Pennsylvania German. It is hard to separate fact from fiction concerning Mike Fink. Early in his life he was an expert marksman with his Kentucky rifle. While still a teenager, he was probably a hunter who sold meat to Pittsburgh butchers and was surely a scout who gathered information for the settlements about Indian activities beyond the western frontier. The battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, followed by the Treaty of Greenville a year later, guaranteed the security of the Northwest frontier and established a boundary in the Northwest Territory between Indian lands and areas open to further white settlement. So Fink moved into his second career, that of a keelboatman....

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Grouard, Frank (20 September 1850–15 August 1905), army scout, was born in the Paumotu Islands in the South Pacific, the son of Benjamin F. Grouard, a Mormon missionary, and a woman who was a native of the islands and reputed to be the daughter of the high chief, though her name remains unknown. When Grouard was two years old, his family moved to California, and his father turned him over to the Addison Pratt family of San Bernardino. Not long after, the Pratts moved to Beaver, Utah, where Grouard lived until he was fifteen. At that time he ran away from home, traveled to San Bernardino, and hired on as a teamster with a wagon train bound for the gold fields of Montana. He worked several different jobs during the next four years, and in January 1870 he was captured by the Sioux while carrying mail in Montana. Grouard’s non-Caucasian features led the Indians to adopt him rather than kill him. He remained with them for six years, learning their language and gaining close acquaintanceships with ...

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Hardin, John (01 October 1753– May 1792), soldier and scout, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, the son of Martin Hardin, a tavern keeper and landowner, and Lydia (maiden name unknown). At about the age of twelve, Hardin moved with his parents to George’s Creek in the unbroken wilderness of southwestern Pennsylvania, where he learned woodcraft and Indian ways and became such a proficient marksman that he was greatly feared by hostile natives. When he reached maturity, he married Jane Daviesse (or Davies), with whom he had six children. After their marriage the couple moved to Virginia. In early 1774 he volunteered as an ensign in Dunmore’s War against the Indians. Although wounded in a battle with the Shawnee while campaigning with Captain Zachariah Morgan, he refused to be invalided out of the service....

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Horn, Tom (21 November 1860–20 November 1903), scout, detective, and assassin, was born near Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri. His parents, whose names are no longer known, were farmers. He attended school irregularly during winter months, did hard farm work, enjoyed hunting, and became an excellent marksman. At about age fourteen and after an argument and violent fight with his father, he ran away to Santa Fe and may have worked as a stage driver. While in that region, he learned to speak Spanish. In 1876 or so he went to Prescott, in Arizona Territory, where he met Al Sieber, the famous civilian chief of scouts for various U.S. Army units in the San Carlos area. Little is known of Horn’s activities for the next several years. In 1882, according to Sieber, Horn worked as an army packer. He undoubtedly participated in the army pursuit of Apaches fleeing from the San Carlos Reservation. American cavalry units commanded by Tullius Cicero Tupper and William Augustus Rafferty, both captains, followed the Apaches into northwest Chihuahua, Mexico, and engaged them in April 1882 in a standoff at Sierra Enmedio, in Sonora....

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Navarre, Pierre (28 March 1790?–20 March 1874), fur trader and military scout, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of François Utreau Navarre and Marie Louise Godet. Pierre (also known as Peter) was of French descent. His grandfather Robert Navarre, an officer in the French army, was a pioneer settler of Detroit and author of “Journal of the Conspiracy of Pontiac” (later published as ...

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Reynolds, Charles Alexander (20 March 1842–25 June 1876), soldier and scout, was born in Warren County, Illinois, the son of Joseph Boyer Reynolds, a physician, and Phebe Bush, both of pioneering Virginia families. Reynolds received schooling at the preparatory division of Abingdon College, Abingdon, Illinois. In 1859 the family moved to Kansas, where the boy worked on his father’s farm, gaining a knowledge of animals and other frontier skills....

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Stilwell, Simpson Everett (25 August 1849–17 February 1903), army scout, was born in Tennessee, the son of William Stilwell and Clara (maiden name unknown), farmers. He was a brother of Frank C. Stilwell, a western outlaw. The family moved to Kansas, where in 1863 his parents divorced. Soon afterward Stilwell, whose nickname was “Jack,” left home and found various means of employment along the Santa Fe Trail....

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Walker, Joseph Rutherford (13 December 1798–27 October 1876), fur trader and explorer, was born in Roane County, Tennessee, the son of Joseph Walker and Susan Willis, farmers. Walker grew up to be a strapping 6′ 4″ young man, strongly built at 200 pounds. Nothing is known of his education. A faulty obituary has led to constant error in his middle name, “Reddeford” being substituted for the proper Rutherford. Walker probably served with his brother Joel in the Creek War campaign of ...

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Williams, William Sherley (03 January 1787– March 1849), fur trapper, trader, and guide, known as “Old Bill,” was born on Horse Creek in Rutherford County, North Carolina, the son of Joseph Williams and Sarah Musick, farmers. In 1794 Joseph Williams took his family west through Cumberland Gap, down the Ohio, to Whiteside Station, fifteen miles south of St. Louis. The following summer (1795), the family crossed the Mississippi into Spanish Louisiana and settled a Spanish land grant near Owen’s Station (sixteen miles to the north of St. Louis). There, Williams acquired a frontier education augmented by his mother’s tutoring and some formal learning. During his teenage years, Williams gained acceptance with the Big Hill band of the Osage. He learned their language, gained influence, married into the tribe (wife’s name unknown), and lived among them for nearly a quarter of a century....